[REVIEW] 32 East Delray Beach (Fl) Restaurant Review
Amongst the dozens of overpriced, high end steak and seafood joints in Florida, it is always refreshing to find a restaurant with an even remotely creative menu. Located on the main strip of Delray Beach, 32 East offers that refreshing bit of innovation that I was craving since my visit to The Bazaar back in Miami. Last year we visited 32E with a very large group, and while I remember being relatively impressed with the food, the night was a complete disaster (no fault of the restaurant, of course. Once I sat down to dinner, I realized I had lost my camera at a restaurant at lunch, and then on the way home I found out my grandpa passed away. It was not a great time). Regardless, after reading positive posts about the spot while doing research before my trip down, I figured it was worth another shot.
Like many restaurants in PB (and Delray, in particular), the place feels more like a club than a restaurant. It has a lively, young, sexy vibe, and is packed with beautiful people. It is definitely not my favourite way to dine, but I can see why some people like it. We were promptly sat at a table mid-restaurant where we had a good view of the action surrounding us.
While prompt to take our drink orders at the start of the night, our server was a bit inattentive and cold. There was very little interaction over the course of the meal, and the only time he seemed to come by was to push us for another drink. Regardless, nothing went terribly wrong with the meal with regards to timing or execution, so I can excuse the indifferent attitude as the unfortunate standard down here.
With regards to cocktails, we sampled the Pama-tini (Pomegranate vodka, Pama Liquer, Sour Mix) and the Derby (Bourbon, Sweet Vermouth, Lime, Grand Marnier). The former was a bit too sweet for my taste, while the latter was wickedly strong. Too much for this girl, but palatable to the man drinking it, so all was good.
The food menu at 32E changes daily, and features enough variety and options to suit a number of palates. We opted for:
Oak Roasted Prosciutto Wrapped D'Anjou Pears with Cambozola Cheese, Swank Farm's Upland Cress and Marcona Almonds
The prosciutto had a powerful smokey flavour that counterbalanced the sweetness of the tender pears. The cheese was just pungent enought that it added distinct flavour without overpowering the other ingredients, and the almonds provided the much needed crunch factor. A very successful first course.
Swank Farm's Salad Greens with Bacon Candy, Sea Salted Pecans, Red Flame Grapes, Pumpkin Mascarpone and Dijon-Maple Vinaigrette
Another delicious salad. Again, the bacon here was incredibly smokey, which was beautifully balanced by the sweet tangy vinaigrette. I loved the supple pop from the grapes, and the crunch from the pecans, and while I definitely enjoyed the creamy richness of the mascarpone, I was disappointed I couldn't detect much pumpkin flavour. Regardless, a delicious starter.
Wood Roasted Gulf Coast Grouper on Salad of Baby Red Beets, Shaved Fennel, Local Frisee and Cara Cara Oranges with Horseradish- Caviar Cream
We've been eating a lot of seafood lately, especially down south in the Caribbean so I have acquired a high bar of standards for fish. While I appreciated the delicate seasoning on the fish, I found it a tad overcooked for my liking. The accompaniments, however, were delicious. The horseradish cream had a distinct pungency that was tempered by the sweet beets and the bright oranges, and the fennel was deliciously aromatic.
Spaghetti with Cauliflower "Carbonara" with Pancetta, Black Pepper and Provolone Piccante
Let's be honest, I saw that word in quotations and I knew it was going to be good. While not a traditional carbonara, the dish was delicious in its own right. Rich, creamy, cheesy sauce, lots of spicy pepper, and a chunk of crispy smokey pork in every bite. I won't lie. I ate it all. I still am a bit unsure where the cauliflower came into play, but hey, if the chef worked it in, and all I tasted was sheer decadence, then this dietitian would really love his secret.
At this point, we had our eye on a nice long walk through Delray and an ice cream, so we skipped on the dessert menu and headed out. For 2 cocktails, 2 apps, and 2 mains, the bill came to $155 including tax and tip. Not outrageous for PB, but certainly not anywhere near our best $150 spent. I can expect we'll return next year as the food was all quite good, but I would just have to cross my fingers for a little more personable service next time.